Physical descriptions of characters often are my least bit of concern. Scenery, done. Play with the senses of smell and taste, done! Descriptions of touch, ehh, I think I could get better at describing how a person is walking, if they’re anxious, what that feels like or looks like, etc.
But describing the actual characters…hmmm.
I actually have a post coming tomorrow that is packed full of resources for writers. Some of the resources are extremely in-depth ways to get to know your characters. In fact, I may very well have to go over my characters with these resources.
I understand people may look at physical descriptions differently than others. I have one test reader who is really into the physical description of characters. It’s great for editing because she picks up on things that I wouldn’t necessarily think about.
When I first started writing my novels, these were my “test” novels. All this means is that these novels were not going to be part of the book series. Rather, they are novels that tell stories of the characters before the book series takes place.
Part of the first novel was written from the perspective of a blind person. It really taught me a lot on the things I take for granted as a sighted individual. While writing stories, I do not necessarily focus as much on the details of what characters look like or what they are wearing.
However, it would be hypocritical for me to act as if I do not see characters in my mind and what they look like. Often times, I do not have all of the details, though. I rely more on what the characters are experiencing or what they are doing.
Basically, this is me beating around the bush that I need to slow down and help my readers visualize better.
However, I am a writer who cannot put everything into one paragraph. I, personally, do not like that. It’s too much information at once. I can’t remember it all. In fact, most of the time unless I am reminded of someone’s eye color, truthfully, I forget. I don’t think it matters as much.
But the kicker is if it matters to my readers, or some of my readers then that is enough reason for it to also matter to me.
I do not need full paragraphs of physical description for characters, but rather, just subtle hints spaced out more consecutively. This is best especially when introducing new characters.
A problem I’ve created for myself is that I have not fully developed complete profiles for my characters. This not only hinders the reader in understanding what they look like, but this can also dampen the personality of my characters.
God has convicted me of my stubbornness when it comes to the description of the characters. As I wrote this post Editing & 5 Things To Edit Better talking about clothing choices for characters and how that can represent their personality.
Editing takes a while, but something to understand is that we are framing what our readers see and experience in their minds. It’s not fair to my readers if I slack on description for characters just because it’s not my thing. That’s pure laziness and stubbornness as its best.
Yeah, I had to call myself out for it.
We need to bear multiple perspectives in mind for writing. Not just the ones related to the writer, but especially the perspectives of the reader.
Do you struggle with something particular in your writing? Conversation? Description? Action?